Wiggle Room For Your Toes
Most runners find that they will go up an entire shoe size from their casual shoes to have enough room for their toes to freely move and feet to swell as they run.
Being able to place a thumbwidth in front of your longest toe to the end of the shoe is often a great test.
If your toes are already hitting the end of the shoe, that means as soon as you start to run even slightly downhill the pressure is ramped up and youre very likely to get ablack toenail from running.
Another way to look at this is examining the toe box.Most shoes have a slightly rounded toe area, while Zero Drop shoes are often designed to have a wider toe box that allows for more spreading of the toes.
The theory is that you want more access for your toes to spread, grab the ground and push away. In two decades of running, Ive tested all manner of shoes and the rounded ends dont bother me.
Youll want a wider toe box in your running shoes if:
- You have a naturally wider foot
- Youre running with bunions the widest part of your foot is made broader and you want space for it
- You like the feel of barefoot running
- You frequently get blisters on your toes
My top picks for wider toebox: New Balance and Altra.
How To Choose Trail Runners
How do you know what trail running shoes are best for you? Its important to find the right fit for your feet to keep you comfortable on your run. Its also wise to think about the terrain where youll be running, from gravel and dirt paths to technical trail running with lots of roots, mud and rocks.
Running Shoe Fit Tips
|Measure your feet each year, as they can change size as you age||The foot arch may lower over time, resulting in a longer foot, or a stronger foot may cause the arch to rise, resulting in a shorter size. Weight changes and activity level can also influence foot size.|
|Women’s feet may become larger during and after pregnancy||Weight gain during pregnancy may cause permanent lowering of the foot arch resulting in a longer foot.|
|Your standard running shoe size is typically a half size larger than your casual shoe||In general, running in shoes that are a tad too large is preferable to running in shoes that are too small.|
|Fit your larger foot||Your left foot and your right foot may differ by as much as a full size. A shoe that is too small is more likely to cause issues than one that is too big.|
|Faster running means you want a snugger fit||A tighter fit means you’ll stay better connected to the shoes when picking up the pace, so it might be worth giving up some wiggle room for a more secure fit. Many racing and performance shoes have a tighter overall fit than everyday training shoes.|
|Sock thickness can affect shoe fit, so try on shoes with the socks you plan to wear||You can change the thickness of your sock to fine-tune your fit. For example, use a thinner sock to create more space or a thicker sock to make the fit snugger.|
|Different lacing techniques can also affect fit||For more information, watch the video below.|
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Other Features To Look For
Waterproof-breathable membranes are good if youre running in rainy or snowy months. GORE-TEX® trail running liners are one type of waterproof membrane , and they help keep your feet drier and warmer on cold, soggy days. They tend to add a bit extra padding, so you may need to go up a half size. They could be hotter on your feet in warm weather.
Mesh and fabric uppers suit hot, dry conditions. These materials are light and wonderfully breathable, but are prone to abrasion. Mesh can also be practical for creek crossings, since it lets water drain and your shoes dry quickly.
Gusseted tongues help keep small pebbles and stones out of your shoes.
Closures will vary from shoe to shoe. Some shoes use classic lacing systems, while others use a quick pull system that can prevent the laces from loosening during long runs. You can even find shoes with pockets to tuck in the laces.
Drop is the difference in height between the heel and forefront midsole cushioning. You typically want a similar type of drop that you use in your road running shoes. Our shoes are grouped by 912mm drop , 58mm drop or 04mm drop . Read more about drop on the main running shoes page.
How To Measure Running Shoes That Will Fit Your Feet Perfectly
Dont you just hate it when you finally find the perfect pair of waterproof running shoes, but they turn out to be the wrong size? After all, you were extra careful, what with the extensive research and size conversions.
But if you still havent been able to find the perfect fitting running shoe, the chances are that you probably messed up somewhere in the process of measuring your shoe size.
Determining your shoe size is tricky enough as it is. But when it comes to running sneakers, the rules of the game are completely different.
So, if you want a running start in finding the perfect fitting running shoe, keep on reading.
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How To Buy Running Shoes
No matter if youre preparing to run a big race or working to get into shape, knowing what to look for in running shoes is key. There are several factors that go into choosing a pair that fits your needs. However, once you find the right pair, you may find yourself running in a different gear. Find out how to choose the right running shoes for you with these helpful tips from our DICKS Sporting Goods Run Ambassadors.
How To Fit Yourself For Running Shoes At Home
We usually recommend getting a professional fitting and gait analysis from a licensed retailer to make sure you have the right fit, stability, and comfort before buying a pair of running shoes.
As solo running is suddenly the most available method of exercise, many people have good reason to buy new running shoes without access to a professional fitting.
So how should you go about doing it yourself? Start with the basics.
1. Trace Your Feet
What youll need:
- A pair of running socks
- Enough paper to trace each foot onto
- Two different color writing utensils
- A ruler
- A calculator
Before you trace your feet, go for a long walk. The human foot expands after walking, and youll want to get a shoe that fits your foot in its most swollen state. Taking a long prep walk before tracing your feet will help you get a more accurate measurement.
Trace one socked foot at a time while kneeling on the opposite knee. Use a towel as a knee pad for comfort. Try to keep the leg of your trace foot bent at about a 90-degree angle.
If you have access to a helper, have them trace each socked foot while youre standing with equal pressure on both feet shoulder length apart with your knees slightly bent.
Youll want to do two traces of each foot, without moving your foot off the paper between traces.
Trace both feet. Its common for them to be different sizes
2. Measure Your Footprints
Why two traces?
Youll want to use this averaging method to measure the following:
3. Convert to Your Size
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Where You Run Matters
“So, do you run here often?”
This may sound like a cheesy pickup line, but its actually a very important question all runners should ask themselves. When it comes to running, its vital to your performance, and more importantly to your well being, that you select a pair of shoes that fit the conditions. Believe it or not, going for a jog on the treadmill is incomparable to logging miles on a dirt road or asphalt.
With that said, lets zero in on the four main categories of running shoes, determine their benefits, and help you score a reliable shoe.
How Are Running Shoes Supposed To Fit
Running is one of the purest and most popular forms of exercise. Apart from getting the right gear, it doesnt cost any money. And, weather permitting, you can do it anywhere, anytime.
Having said that, every runner needs not only proper footwear but also properly fitting footwear. How are running shoes supposed to fit? Following the fit guidelines for sneakers we outlined above is a great place to start, but weve got a few more pointers for determining the right size.
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Features Of A Road Shoe
Road shoes are going to be more flexible, lighter, more cushioned and have a softer tread. Because a shoe manufacturer assumes that a road will not vary much, they create a corrective shoe that helps an athlete avoid over-pronation or supination. Wearing a road shoe on the trail will leave your foot unprotected, not to mention you will absolutely destroy the soft tread on your shoe as you slip and slide your way down.
Motion Control Running Shoes
These shoes can be a great choice for runners who exhibit moderate to severe overpronation. Motion control shoes have extra built-in support and flatter outsoles. This combination can help combat excessive pronation to help stabilize the foot.
There are a few ways to figure out which running shoe may best fit you. This includes the arches of your feet, your gait type and the tread of your shoes.
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When Should You Replace Running Shoes
Once your mileage approaches the 300 mark on a pair of shoes, you want to look for signs that it’s time to replace them.
Obviously, when your shoes look shabby or pieces of them split or rip, they should be kicked to the curb. But if your running is becoming a habit, a more nuanced shoe strategy may be in order.
When you run, a couple of things happen to your shoes. First, they take a literal pounding. And, second, they tend to get wet from sweat. For these reasons, shoes should be given at least a day between runs to allow the cushioning to rebound and dry out. Which means that if youre running more than three times a week, adding a second pair of running shoes into the rotation is a good ideaand, if you buy those additional kicks some months after the first one, this also means youll have two pairs that are slightly different ages, meaning youll always have one pair of old faithfuls while youre breaking in a new pair.
How Should Trail Running Shoes Fit Top Tips
Follow these tips when choosing the best trail running shoes. Take advantage of the fact that many sports shoes shops and retailers will be able to give advice on how trail running shoes should fit many allow customers to test new footwear indoors before going outside to check that the fit is right.
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How To Find The Right Length & Width
When you are going to pick out a pair of running shoes, it is a good rule of thumb that your shoe should have a thumbs width of space at the toe. I always say that you want your toes to be able to wiggle around. And I do not know about you, but my feet swell a little after running and having a little extra space can help to prevent my shoes from becoming too snuggle after long runs.
In running shoes, I would say that you do not want your toe to touch the end of the shoe because this can cause you to experience pain and potentially trauma to your toenails.
But, if you are a minimalist runner and wearing toe shoes, the running shoe should fit your feet like a sock. Generally, considering the way toe shoes are designed, the material has the ability to stretch more as your feet swell.
To help you measure the width of your running shoe, take a piece of paper and trace your foot. Then, take the shoe insert and see if it matches your foot. If the insert is narrower than your foot, you may want to get a wider shoe or choose a different option. And vice versa.
Proper Fit Best Practices
What I like to do is to scoot my foot forward until my toes just touch the end of the shoe and then I just slide my thumb right into the back of the shoe again to make sure to have that amount of space.
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When youre at the running shoe store or once you order a pair of shoes and theyve arrived at your house during lockdown, for example, I recommend trying them on with the socks you normally wear while running whether theyre a little bit thicker or whether theyre a little thinner low-profile ones.
If you use orthotics or custom footbeds, place them in your shoe after removing the sock liner.
Its worth noting that feet tend to swell throughout the day, so trying them on in the afternoon will give you a more accurate idea of how the shoe will fit mid-run.
Once your shoes are comfortably laced, stand up and test the shoes length. There should be about a thumbnails width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
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The heel should fit snugly without slipping as you walk and your toe should have some extra room on either side to allow your feet to spread out.
Many runners dont realize how much they can customize the fit of their shoes just by changing the way they lace them.
Here are a few different ways to lace up your running shoes to deal with various fit problems.
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Your Shoe Should Fit The Activity As Much As It Fits Your Foot
Trail shoes are designed to grip soft, off-road terrain and protect you from stubbing your toes on exposed roots and rocks. If you wear them on the road, they may lack the cushion and flexibility you want. And you will likely wear down the grippy tread prematurely.
Similarly, a road racing shoe often has light tread and is designed to go fast on pavement and might not be a good choice if youre going to pass through mud.
Also, keep in mind that running brands make other shoes that arent designed for running. Thats why it helps to buy from a retailer that specializes in running footwear. For example, your favorite brand might make high-performing running shoes, but if you buy their random sneaker from a big box store, that shoe may be designed for fashion or another sport, and may not be made for running at all.
Determine Your Foot Type
To get the proper support from your running shoe, you need to determine whether you pronate, supinate or keep your foot neutral. Because these foot motions often coincide with the height of your arch, you can use a footprint to determine your foot type. Moisten your feet with water, then step onto a surface that will show your prints. A sidewalk, deck or piece of paper will usually work. If your foot print shows little to no arching at the center, you have low arches and will tend to over-pronate. If your footprint shows a high arch you will tend to supinate. If the width of your arch and the edge of your footprint are about equal, you have normal arches. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of arch support in your shoes accordingly.
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How To Lace Running Shoes
How you lace your running shoes can make a big difference in terms of fit. If youre new to running and unsure which style of lacing to choose, ask a shoe expert for help.
Beyond that, Lobkova recommends using the style that provides the snuggest fit: Laces that are too loose and too tight are common signs that the shoe is not the right fit, and the lacing is being done to compensate for poor fit.
In general, Holland says, make sure the shoe fit is correct before you consider lacing techniques.
If theres any part of the shoe that slips or feels tight, or you feel the structure of the shoe too much, tell your running store adviser, and they will help you with lacing or provide socks, heel cups, or other accessories that make the fit better.
A good rule of thumb, says Holland, is that the shoes should essentially disappear from your consciousness when you run: Anything that registers to you will turn out to be a nuisance at mile 14.
To get a better idea of lacing techniques, check out this video that demonstrates several methods.
No Pinching Or Tightness On Top Of Foot
Another area that often goes overlooked is the fit along the top of the foot, which is why I want you to actually run in the shoe. Sometimes youll find as you start to run that the shoe simply breaks in a weird way causing pressure on the top of your foot.
Each shoe is designed with a different level of flexibility and it could simply be that your foot strike doesnt work with that shoe.
Additionally, if youre feeling tightness it means your foot again doesnt have enough room to swell during longer runs. Many times this can be resolved with adjusting the lacing technique, but its good to know that upfront.Example: Here we unlaced along the bottom of the shoe to pull up around the toe and create more space. You could do a similar lacing right along the middle of the shoe to relieve pressure.
Test with your insoles
Finally, if you need to put an insole in your shoe bring it with you to the store. This will change the height of your foot inside the shoe.
Some shoes like my favorite Nike React are a knit, so theres not room for the shoe to expand upwards, which means youll know quickly by placing your insert that the shoe it too tight.
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